Support the Ashcroft inland port

TNRD Director for Area I says support the Ashcroft inland port and say "no" to Delta Port.

Dear Editor

Don’t Do Delta – Support Ashcroft Inland Port

This is the mantra of a petition beginning to circulate the BC Interior.

The petition, which addresses the continuing removal of farmland from the ALR (for non-farming purposes) takes particular issue with the proposed DeltaPort expansion project.

Delta Mayor Lois Jackson and council have made their position perfectly clear with the AG Plan portion of the Delta OCP  (Official Community Plan) – leave our farmland alone.

Unfortunately, the cry seems to have fallen on deaf ears. After a recent visit to the Ashcroft Inland Port site Mayor Jackson declared it a win/win location. Delta can retain some of the most fertile farmland in the world and Ashcroft, with proper zoning already in place and even more important – both the CN and CP located on the same side of the Thompson River – it would seem no brainer.

Toss in the economic struggles in much of rural BC an investment of this sort is not only long term, but a game changer. The lack of rural high paying jobs has contributed to school closures, the Ashcroft Hospital decline, small business closures…the list goes on.

The Inland Port and the jobs that go with it would have an economic impact  (of varying degree) of five rural municipalities and much of Electoral Area I.

The ALC  mission statement is very clear.

Our Mission: Preserve agricultural land and encourage and enable farm businesses throughout British Columbia.

The Provincial Agricultural Land Commission (ALC) is an independent Provincial agency responsible for administering the Province’s land use zone in favour of agriculture.

Will the application to rezone this prime farm land – (contrary to the ALC’s own mission statement and the Delta Ag Plan) – be approved? Most likely.

Why?, I would ask the commissioners. We could suggest it is the big money already invested. Maybe the Port Authority flexing some muscle. Perhaps CN and CP are reluctant. And though it is an “independent” Provincial agency, does the Province weigh in?

Lots of questions, very few answers. At the end of the day maybe the more important question is not where the Inland Port is located but if a politician or appointed agency is put in a position to represent a constituency or adhere to a mission statement they should make every effort to do just that.

If they find they absolutely must take a different path, they should be prepared to clearly lay out the reasons for such a detour. We are looking at a death sentence for hundreds of acres of farmland. Why?

Steven Rice

TNRD Director Area I